Aggregated Micro Power*: Acquisition and placing (CORP) | 4imprint: Substantial market share gain opportunity continues (BUY) | Penna: Recommended cash bid at 365p (HOLD)
Companies: AMPH FOUR PNA
This quarter’s topic: Is the model good enough? Growth in the current low-growth environment is hard fought but the Support Services sector contains a range of innovative business models that are enabling strong progress against a continued difficult backdrop. Having looked at the level of value-add (and ability to raise margins) in the last quarterly, we now look at EPS forecast trends. Innovative models that separate a company from the competition, support market share gains and drive growth are evidenced by forecast upgrades that are likely to repeat as the model continues to deliver.
Companies: FOUR DSCV CMS CONN CHT LOK PNA PPH STAF
Support services can mean many things to many organisations but essentially the sector can be seen as a lubricant that helps the wheels of the economy continue to turn. A common thread is outsourcing activities that are most economically and effectively performed by a specialist rather than keeping in house. Companies in the sector tend to provide business critical services to their customers, thereby providing an element of stickiness. The sector benefits when the economy grows, but also offers an element of defensiveness as client companies and public sector bodies strive to keep their own fixed cost bases down. However given the broad range of businesses within the industry it is difficult to apply a broad brush description, and stock selection according to one’s investment criteria is vital.
Companies: XCH CSC CPI VP/ DSCV EQN WPG BILB PTSG PNA MACF AUK VIP MPAY UNG PEG PEN
SCISYS*: H2 confirms recovery (CORP) | Aukett Swanke*: Choosing the moment (CORP) | Independent Oil & Gas*: Skipper licence extension and share issue (CORP) | Datatec*: Ten-month update (CORP) | Penna Consulting: Analyst interview (BUY)
Companies: AUK IOG DTC PNA SSY
Penna Consulting: Disruption and change is driving growth (BUY) | Ideagen*: Robust interims (CORP) | Sound Energy: Further acquisition of Sidi Moktar interest (BUY)
Companies: PNA IDEA SOU
Penna offers a unique range of HR services from attracting, hiring and developing staff through to downsizing and restructuring. These services are largely delivered via a consultancy model, offering deeper client relationships and visibility, rather than the usual placement fees more normal in recruitment. Demand is driven by change and as industry is increasingly forced to adapt to disruptive entrants and a low growth environment we believe Penna has the opportunity to build a major HR services group. We initiate with a Buy recommendation and a share price target of 390p (15% upside).
Companies: Penna Consulting
ATQT New Contract Win, BOOM Agreement, AVN Contract Win, CNIC Agreement, COS Final Results and Partnership, GOAL Trading Statement, IVO Funding Found, MIRA Final Results, MXO Investment and Placing, NRR Acquisition, OPTI Contract Signed, PNA Market update, RSTR Partnership, STAF Trading Update
Companies: ATQT AVN CNIC COS GOAL IVO MXO OPTI PNA BBSN STAF NRR BOOM MIRA
Penna Consulting, the international human resources consulting group, was founded in 1973 and is widely recognised to be the pioneer of outplacement services in the United Kingdom, the activity which it continues to dominate, and is best known for. Outplacement can be defined as the efforts made by a downsizing company to help former employees transition to new jobs and help them re-orient themselves in the job market, a function usually outsourced to the likes of Penna. With this in mind one might imagine that Penna may struggle to prosper during an economic recovery or cyclical upswing, but prosper it has, as exemplified by last month’s final results for FY Mar 2015.
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A number of REITs have the ability to thrive in current market conditions and thereafter. Not only do they hold assets that will remain in strong demand, but they have focus and transparency. The leases and underlying rents are structured in a manner to provide long visibility, growth and security. Hardman & Co defined an investment universe of REITs that we considered provided security and “safer harbours”. We introduced this universe with our report published in March 2019: “Secure income” REITs – Safe Harbour Available. Here, we take forward the investment case and story. We point to six REITs, in particular, where we believe the risk/reward is the most attractive.
Companies: AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL HAYD NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI SCE SHED VTA
Successful businesses ‘never let a crisis go to waste’. Indeed since an otherwise strong Q1’20 was interrupted by COVID-19, Mpac has further streamlined operations, accelerated R&D and launched new remote equipment diagnostic/acceptance testing, virtual reality & other ‘Industry 4.0’ services.
RBG Holdings pre-close trading update to June 30th confirms a strong H1 performance for RBL, the Group’s law firm, with revenues up 36% like-for-like to c.£11.4m YoY. Convex, the CF boutique, understandably has faced COVID headwinds, with most of its H1 pipeline deferred indefinitely, whilst Litigation Finance continues to grow its pipeline and financing commitments on a longer term view. Due to continued uncertainty from COVID we withdraw our forecasts this morning, with a view to reinstating once more clarity on H1 outturn and momentum into H2 is available.
Companies: Rosenblatt Group
Resilient Trading Update
Companies: Macfarlane Group
The year-end trading update was encouraging, with expected results showing good YoY growth, modestly below but close to our earlier expectations. Trading has been resilient, particularly in safety critical areas such as its nuclear exposure, with some weakness being seen in oil & gas, where there is limited exposure. Two new contract wins in the nuclear sector have also been announced today. FY 2021 forecasts remain under review. With strong finances, the company is well positioned to maximise M&A opportunities, through its PIE strategy.
Revenue for FY 2020 is ahead of expectation and we adjust our forecast accordingly. Sales are growing at an impressive rate; >50% pa despite COVID-19 and the virus had no effect on the company’s ability to deliver projects with 23 new customers live in Q4. We note COVID concerns are causing some delay on contract decisions, and sales would have been even stronger but for that. These delays do lead to caution on FY 2021, and we ease back our forecasts on more prudent management guidance. However, with the recent £5m equity placing, PCIP has plenty of cash to continue to invest in rolling out its exciting secure payments proposition. This cloud-based solution can be deployed remotely and assists call centres in moving agents to WFH and still collect payments securely. The outlook remains very bright with continued rapid growth expected.
Companies: PCI Pal
The group has issued a trading update for the year ended 31 May 2020 highlighting an adjusted EBITDA of at least £11.5m which is close to the group’s original expectation, despite widespread disruption to operations in the second half. The statement notes ample liquidity headroom in excess of £10m with net debt (excluding IFRS 16 lease liabilities) reducing in H2 to £7.5m as planned. The Group’s order book and prospect pipeline remains strong overall and the update is accompanied by the announcement of two meaningful contract wins in the nuclear sector. A further significant positive development is the grant of outline planning permission for the conversion of the group’s 7 acre Hayward Tyler site in Luton into residential housing for up to 1000 dwellings. Whilst financial guidance for FY2021E remains withdrawn at this point due to on-going uncertainties around the impact of COVID-19, we see the group continuing to demonstrate good resilience, operating at close to normal levels, supported by exposure to multiple markets and a strong customer base that includes governments and their agents.
Caledonia's Q2 2020 production from its 64% owned Blanket mine in Zimbabwe was 13.5koz gold. This was an increase over the same period last year of 6.2%, leaving Caledonia with a first half production of 27.7koz – well ahead of this time last year (24.7koz) and on track to meet its 2020 full year guidance of 53-56koz (WHI etc. 55.5koz).
Spectra Systems Corporation is a provider of machine-readable high-speed banknote authentication, brand protection technologies and gaming security software. The company has announced that it has executed a new contract with a major world central bank to ‘enhance existing authentication sensors to detect a unique type of counterfeit notes'.
Companies: Spectra Systems Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc Com Shs Npv
Marlowe delivered a strong performance during FY20A, with +7% organic revenue growth, and improved Adj EBITDA margins. Integration of acquisitions is progressing well, and with receipt of c£40m gross proceeds, Marlowe is well placed to accelerate the consolidation of its markets. We leave our forecasts unchanged and reaffirm our Buy rating.
Jubilee today takes us through its H1 2020 numbers, which, importantly, cover the critical COVID-19 initial lockdown period in South Africa. The numbers continue to show growth and progress, with headline H1 2020 operational earnings up 54% to GBP 12.8 million – the sixth consecutive, six-monthly period of double-digit growth. The cash position increased to £10.8m despite settling the final payment of £1.4m for the acquisition of additional PGM and chrome rights as well as settling historical debt of £2.5m, all while commissioning the Zambian Sable Refinery.
Following the appointment two months ago of new CEO Rob Richards, VDTK's newsflow has been encouraging in recent weeks, and we view this morning's announcement as a further affirmation of the company's renewable energy solution. Today's RNS highlighting a contract to supply ultra lightweight, flexible solar panels to Black Tulip Minerals SA, of Peru, is, at over €200,000, the latest in a string of recent positive announcements, while also taking the company into a completely new sector which it had announced as a target area.
Image Scan is a specialist in the field of X-ray imaging for the security and industrial inspection markets. The company has announced, as part of its organic growth strategy, a new partnership agreement with a major security technology company that will lead to the launch of a new range of security X-ray screening systems for the international market. Competitively priced, and leveraging Image Scan's IP and direct and indirect international channel partners, the new system will be a high performance, competitive conveyor X-ray machine, suitable for security checkpoints in government and commercial buildings around the world. Importantly, these systems will also allow the company to increase its recurring service and support revenue.
Companies: IGE JLP VDTK
ECSC Group plc* (ECSC.L, 71.5p/£7.2m) | Trackwise Designs plc (TWD.L, 90.5p/£20.0m) | Transense Technologies plc (TRT.L, 59.5p/£9.7m)
Companies: ECSC Group Trackwise Designs
Scotland’s only quoted housebuilder recorded its highest ever weekly number of reservations following the reopening of its sales offices after the prolonged construction lockdown north of the border. As a result, Q1 2021 sales are expected to be “significantly higher” Y/Y, after the inevitable disruption caused by Covid. In this morning’s FY 2020 trading update, the Group also highlighted the widely reported trend across the housing market to larger homes with gardens, Springfield’s ‘sweet spot’ in our view.
Companies: Springfield Properties
Updating forecasts following 2019 results
Companies: Trackwise Designs
Strong H1 results, prospects good, investing in the future WEY's H1 results this morning reflect both the positive effect of proactive actions taken by the company last year and strong demand from the market at large. Sales up 43% YoY and PBTA of
£0.3m (2019: £0.1m) reflect increases across both sides of WEY's business and are accompanied by margin uplift (62% gross margin as against 56% last year). The company is a well-established leading supplier of online education, having built a 15-year track record of excellence in its sphere. Covering the half year ending on February 29th, the period of the results precedes the lockdown; however this morning's statement lays out the heightened demand for WEY's product which is an inevitable result of the new focus on remote working and online learning. WEY is plainly extremely well-placed to grow in the current environment, and it has made significant investments in educational quality and in marketing – in both cases including senior and wellrespected hires. The Covid-19 crisis has generated a new appreciation of online education from parents, pupils and educational authorities, who increasingly see this as a real, practical and highly effective substitute for traditional education, adding to the already strong demand across
WEY's brands. Our 30p-plus fair value assessment rests on the inherent opportunities and is also supported by the strong balance sheet (£6.6m of net cash, +£1.6m in the period).
Companies: Wey Education
Tipping point: Proven, revenue generating, now scaling